Rising interest rates, higher prices and inventory shortages continue to weigh on automobile sales in Colorado, according to a quarterly update from the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association.

Consumers in the state registered 20.8% fewer new cars and trucks in the third quarter and for the first 9 months of the year, registrations dropped 14.5% compared to the same period last year.

In real numbers, the state has had 159,927 new vehicle registrations so far this year compared to 187,009 last year.

On the positive side, Colorado continues to outperform the larger U.S. auto market, which has seen registrations drop 16.9% this year. And pent-up demand remains, which will be met with increased production over the next 12 months and likely price reductions, said Tim Jackson, president of CADA, in comments accompanying the report.

“On the flip side of the coin, we expect that surging inflation, elevated interest rates, higher gas prices, and a weakening in consumer sentiment may continue to put pressure on new vehicle sales. Historically, we know that a sagging economy puts the brakes on new vehicle sales,” Jackson said.

Higher fuel prices this year have failed to boost the market share compared to light trucks and SUVs. Light truck registrations declined 13.8% in the first nine months and that segment maintains a dominant 86.4% of the total vehicle market. New car registrations, by contrast, decreased 18.8%.

Although car sales are down, consumers are snapping up more green vehicles. There were 13,959 hybrid vehicle registrations in the first nine months compared to 12,924 last year, an 8% increase. Battery electric vehicle registrations rose to 11,458 versus 8,120, a 41% increase. Plug-in hybrid vehicle registrations rose to 3,803 from 3,165, a 20% gain.

Makes that have seen increased registrations this year in Colorado are BMW, Genesis, Hyundai, Kia, MINI, Maserati and Tesla. Those with the biggest declines were Buick, Chrysler, Dodge, Jaguar, Lincoln, Ram. Toyota and Ford remain the market leaders in Colorado.

So far this year, new vehicle registrations are down the most in southern Colorado, 20.1%, followed by northern Colorado, down 15.1% and the Western Slope, down 14.3%. Metro Denver is holding up the best, with a 12.3% decline.

Used car and truck registrations in Colorado were down 11.8% in the first nine months of the year.

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